Cedar Ring Mama

Taking My Cues From Mother Earth


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Guest Post- Kids And Knitting Go Hand-in-Hand

Today I am happy to welcome Elizabeth from Handwork Homeschool. She is here to inspire us with visions of handmade splendor!

 

Summer-time knitting – the perfect way to while away an afternoon.

The KNIT Lessons Handwork Homeschool

Ahhh, doesn’t that conjure up the most wonderful image of sitting under a shady tree, watching your little ones happily playing while you turn out piece after marvelous piece?

Perhaps, you have your favourite drink by your elbow, a stash of delicious yarn & a pair of magic knitting needles….  whoa… what?!

You may have dreamt this dream, but we all know that it’s a real trick to make it happen!

Knitting is pretty easy to learn but what about finding the time to actually knit ?


The KNIT Lessons - Handwork Homeschool

Oddly enough, whenever someone sees my children wearing a handknit sweater
or playing with a knitted toy, they are always shocked to find out that I made it!

They KNOW that I knit & yet, they always say, “but you HOMESCHOOL!!!
When do you find the time to knit along with everything else you do ???”

I just smile & look off into the distance – they don’t need to know all of my secrets
but I’ll share them with you!

One of the most amazing things about knitting is that you can build up a project bit by bit.

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool

“Every stitch counts!”

It is such a great feeling to knit a little bit everyday, especially when the rest of your day is filled with tasks that you have to do over & over –  laundry, dishes, making meals, sweeping floors, getting the groceries – you know you did them but sometimes, it feels like you didn’t actually accomplish anything all day.

That’s when a few rows of knitting can remind you that the
little things are worth doing
.

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool

If you’re a knitter,  you probably recognize the feeling that washes over
you once you settle down with your needles for a few minutes.

Did you know that it’s not all in your imagination?

Recently scientists have been doing studies into what knitting actually does
to your mind & body.  It’s calming & yet makes you incredibly alert at
the same time. The rhythmic act of making the stitches frees your mind to wander – allowing you to slip into a relaxed state almost instantly.

No mats, special clothes, babysitters or headstands necessary!

What other form of meditation can you practice while your kids are jumping
on the couch?!

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool

The best thing is that you’ve got something to show for your work.
A little toy, a sweater for your babe or even a new pillow for that well-bounced couch.

Knitting can add so much to your life:

  • dazzling colours, patterns & textures to play with
  • time to think & create something of your own
  • a way for you to give a gift that will always be remembered

Speaking of gifts, teaching your child to knit has got to be one of the best
that you could ever give.  One that will increase in value as the years
pass.

At first, knitting will be a challenge, one that makes his brain tell his hands
to move in new ways.  Then after a while, he’ll begin to hone his skills of
perseverance & patience as he works to finish a project.

The KNIT Lessons  - Handwork Homeschool
Before you know it, he’ll be making gifts for you.  He won’t know that
the little knit bag he made is only half of the present, the other part
is the shining look of joy in his eyes as you admire his work.

When I first found out about Waldorf, one of the main things that drew me to
it was the fact that handwork was included in the children’s regular lessons.
I really liked the idea that it was considered important enough to spend
time on along with the academic subjects.

As we’ve walked the homeschool “path”, I’ve watched my son & daughter
blossom & grow.  I’ve learned a lot about how to teach them & they’ve learned
how to have their Mama as their teacher.

When I first started homeschooling, I didn’t realize that knitting could affect them  on so many levels.   After more than 30 years of knitting (yes, it’s hard to believe…) & then teaching it to my son, I decided it was time to find out exactly why it was part of
Steiner’s first curriculum.

Oh, the things I’ve discovered!

This summer, I’m finally ready to share the course that I’ve been working on for years…

NEW final logo

When I first introduced my son to the fibre arts,  I was so excited.
The funny thing was, that I wasn’t sure what to do first!

I searched for a complete step-by-step course that would show me what to do &
when to do it.

Guess what?  I couldn’t find one.

So, I figured I’d better roll up my sleeves & create my own.

One that would teach the basics (stitches, starting, finishing) as well as  few
extras (shaping, colourwork) along with some creative work (designing
your own Tell-Tale Playscape) mixed in with a touch of theory (just HOW
will I teach my child to knit & WHEN?).

BONUS

If you enroll in the COMPLETE course before June 18th, you’ll also get access
to the all NEW mini-course,

“How to Write a Fantastic Container Story”

The KNIT Lessons - Handwork Homeschool

If you’d like to know more about The KNIT Lessons you can pop over HERE

The KNIT Lessons - Handwork Homeschool

Before you go – let me tell you about one extra cool part of this course.

In keeping with my theme of making this course a real All-In-One Experience, I’ve teamed up with Becca here at Cedar Ring Circle to create some amazing
“The KNIT Lessons” kits.

Whether you take Babes ‘n’ Yarns (Part ONE), Tell-Tale Knits (Part TWO) or opt for
the complete The KNIT Lessons – Make YOUR Story – we’ve got one for you.

Each kit contains a complete collection of yarns & tools that are perfectly suited to make the exercises & projects during the course.  She’s giving you a fab deal
(better than retail prices) & you will get it all in this nice neat package… so after you purchase your course tuition, head on over to Cedar Ring Circle and pick up your materials.

The Knit Lessons Kit

It’s always great to save time AND money!

This summer, come on over to Handwork Homeschool  & join a global
community of knitters (a great mix of beginners, experts & everybody in between)
who are going to have a great time learning, making & imagining with some
yarn & a couple of “sticks”!

By the way,
there’ll be step-by-step video tutorials, all the virtual handholding
you want, printables & lots of FUN!

See you in class!

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P.S.  I’d like to thank Becca so much for sharing her spot on the ‘net
with me today & helping me make this course truly interactive!
This is the closest thing I can get to putting you in my car & driving you to the
nearest yarn shop!

Let’s learn & KNIT at Handwork Homeschool !


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Waldorf Moms Have LOTS To Look Forward To!

Why?

Great things are coming!

If you haven’t heard, here’s a little heads up.

1. Donna Ashton’s annual Waldorf Connection Global Homeschooling Expo is scheduled for June 13-15th, and it’s free!  She has put together a wonderful assortment of speakers, and you can listen from the comfort of your own home. It takes a lot of talent to contain the pure Waldorf power of both Eugene Schwarz and Marsha Johnson in one venue, but if anyone can, Donna can! And she’ll do it with finesse, because she’s like the Terry Gross of the Waldorf world.  I can’t wait to listen to Anne-Marie Fryer Wilboltt’s talk about using grains in a gluten-free world (one sort of feels like a rebel baking bread these days in the crunchy crowds, know what I mean?), and Ingun Schneider discuss the Extra Lesson and sensory issues.  But most of all, I am waiting with baited breath to hear Rick Tan explain how to tell my kids about the birds and the bees, Waldorf style.  No, not the actual birds and bees- *those* birds-and-bees. Wonder with me if you will… what kind of container story can we make up for this one?  Is there a fairytale that may magically bypass the awkward moments and impress upon our child’s psyche all he or she needs to know about the matter?  Do we plan a farm field trip and hope the animals are feeling frisky (I’ll admit, that has sort of been my plan until now but I am not sure if my son’s wives will appreciate it. PLEASE HELP ME, RICK!)? If I can’t tune in for anything else, *this* I need to know.

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2. From Handwork Homeschool, Elizabeth’s “The Knit Lessons“.  It is like a magical adventure through knitting, both to shore up your own newbie or intermediate skills AND your present-this-to-your-child skills, even if you yourself are an expert! After this course, your youngster will be knitting like a sailor.  Which is pretty much better than anything else they can do that a sailor would.  Drinking and cursing come to mind. LOL. You will also be guided through creating an entire fairytale scene in yarn, and it gets better…. Elizabeth and I have teamed up.  She will be offering the course, and I will be offering complete materials packages.  From sanding your dowel, to adding a cute little wooden cap to the end of it and polishing it smooth, to finger-spinning your own yarn from raw wool straight off the sheep, to a beautiful knitted playscpae- this course will be unlike any other available. Stay tuned for a course and materials scholarship opportunity!

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3. Affordable rocker boards! Yes, these things have taken the natural toy world by storm.  They began appearing in Waldorf early childhood classrooms years ago.  Who knew a bent piece of wood could be so versatile… so entertaining… so …expensive? After many requests from Cedar Ring Circle members, I teamed up with an Amish woodworker to create boards that would be a little easier on the budget.  My first batch sold out before I could even list them online, and I already have a growing list of buyers for the next batch, so I highly recommend pre-ordering one so little Johnny does not have to wait til he’s graduating from college to get one of these. Although it would make a fabulous graduation gift. 🙂 Best of all, I am offering you, my fabulous blog readers, $10 off when you pre-order this week. Use the code ROCKNROLL.  That will make your board just $89 plus shipping (and will help me order the needed materials)!

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 Hope to “see you” at either the Expo or the Knit Lessons. And please share this post and help spread the news about all these wonderful things!

 

 

 


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Waldorf Homeschool Supplies- Sourcing and Organizing Your Stash

The Waldorf forums have been abuzz with talk of curriculum and supplies lately, haven’t they? What do you really need? Well here are my thoughts, somewhat geared to the newer-to-Waldorf mom. I think by your third or fourth year you’ve come to a place of equilibrium and buy less out of an impulse to “arrive” at that peaceful Waldorf life you imagine, and more out of a seasoned knowledge of what will really compliment your own family culture- perhaps by trial and error (but do not fear, Waldorf supplies hold their value well and there is a great new facebook group to buy and sell used items here).

First of all, you need confidence.  Confidence in the direction you’ve chosen, confidence in your intuition, confidence in your children.  No one can really sell this to you, because confidence just doesn’t come “in a bottle”.  Support, yes- and there are some wonderful mentors and consultants who can offer guidance and a hand to hold when you need it. But confidence needs to come from within you.  You need to really feel it, and cultivate it- this, I think, comes from your inner work and meditation.  In the moments we connect with out Source of Being, we connect with our inner knowing.  From this springs forth clarity of purpose, and confidence! When you have this, you won’t doubt yourself as a teacher should you lack any of those “Waldorfy” specialty items.

It is easy to come to a philosophy with so much depth and rich tradition and feel a little intimidated or bewildered- we’ve all been there, I think.  So our challenge is to move away from these low energy vibrations of intimidation and overwhelm, and channel our sense of adventure; develop our momentum for growth.  We must not forget the lesson the cosmos and all of creation offers, that same “breathing in, breathing out” rhythm we guide our children into- and allow ourselves a rest of contraction following a burst of expansion into knowledge and skill. I think this is where the sense of “burn out” comes into our lives- for we are not altogether different creatures than these children we guide.  We so easily recognize the over-stimulated two year old; do we recognize this same tendency for too much expansion, not enough contraction, in ourselves? Collecting armfuls of curriculum and supplies can also be a very expansive event, and we need to consider what time we have for the actual putting to use.  We need only purchase what we can actually “will” to use- and sometimes, we can buy with our thinking and our feeling, without considering what we have the will to fully utilize.

For beginners collecting supplies, the three things that come to mind are block crayons, wet-on-wet watercolor supplies, and modeling beeswax. If you are a busy mama with a lot on your plate, start with just one of these, and really master it.  Then move on to the next. I think block crayons and good drawing paper- one with a bit of “tooth”, or slightly rough texture, like this, are really the first things you need to get started.  For paper, look for “90 lb” or around 150 gsm weight.  Keep padding under your paper for best results (otherwise you may pick up the texture of your table or drawing surface). Teach your child to make halos of color and shade with the long side, or “papa side”, or the short side, or “mama side”, but not so much the corner or point.  Block crayon drawing is an art discipline, and Sieglinde De Francesca has some great resources, here. I have asked if I can offer her products through the co-op- and am still waiting to hear back. *7/20 UPDATE*- Yay!  Heard back from her and Cedar Ring Circle members can now find her wonderful block crayon manual, dvd’s, and other books in the member catalog! I watched one of her dvd’s a year ago and it transformed my understanding of block crayons.  I consider an understanding of block crayons, and a simple set of at least the three primary colors (carmine red, lemon yellow, ultramarine blue), a first step in having a solid foundation in your Waldorf homeschool. They can be obtained cheaply from several sources, like my supply co-op or from Pamela at http://www.meadowsweetnaturals.com.  My friend Elisabeth, who is in Waldorf teacher training, recommends a sets of 12, with a light and dark red, orange, light and dark yellow, light and dark green, light and dark blue, purple, and light and dark brown.  Individual block crayons can be ordered from Pamela or my co-op as well. Elisabeth also explains that children should have plenty of time to draw as they wish, but during lessons, we are instructing them in art, and showing them techniques- leading.  We present them with a chalkboard drawing, and sit beside them in our homeschool to teach them to draw certain forms and gestures during Main Lesson.  The beauty of block crayons is the simplicity of the gestures in the beings we draw, and “halos” of color we create around the picture.

Primary Block Crayons

After drawing with block crayons, wet-on-wet watercolor is a wonderful technique to introduce.  Here, the paper is also important.  140 lb, or 300 gsm, is a lovely weight, but can be expensive- and in European schools, the paper Mercurius says is most popular is only 150 gsm.  I’ve used this and with careful sponging flat to the painting board til dry, and stacking books or heavy items on it after it dries, you can achieve minimum buckling.  However, I’m so excited to have just found a great supplier for Fabriano’s wonderful 140 lb, 300 gsm watercolor paper pads.  You can find them here – and members get a great discount on these, so hopefully good quality paper will be more affordable for your homeschool. I also love the postcard size ones for creating your own seasonal post cards and placing them in card holders near the nature table.

You only really need three Stockmar paints (again, carmine red, lemon yellow, and ultramarine blue).  I recommend making your own painting boards with 5 ply plywood- birch or maple.  It is very cost effective, as you can get a 4 x 8 foot board Lowe’s for under $25, and get 4-6 boards depending on sizes you cut.  Round the edges and sand a bit, sealing with linseed oil if you prefer a finish. The Waldorf cow’s hair paintbrushes are nice and last forever, but I would not get hung up on having them if money is tight. Likewise, the cute painting trays with jars are nice, but baby food jars will work just as well for mixing and storing your paints in the fridge between uses to start out.  Two great books (just pick one! Simplicity is best!) for learning the techniques are Painting In Waldorf Education and Painting With Children. Have I convinced you *not* to buy a bunch of stuff yet?  😉

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And next, in coming to Waldorf, there is modeling.  It is so important and therapeutic for the child!  “Learning About the World Through Modeling” by Arther Auer is truly a must have.  I would buy this book before I bought modeling beeswax, it is that good… if you have a limited budget, get this book first and use it with homemade play-do until you can spring for some modeling beeswax sheets.  One fun project to make with the modeling wax is these lovely flower children- here is a link to the instructions!

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Once you’ve got a good handle on modeling beeswax, you can explore more modeling media.  Clays are wonderful; there is something so earthy, something that truly inspires the creative aspects of the human being to emerge when we model with clay.  I am trying to really set aside time to model with my children so that they can see me doing it and be inspired to love it as well.  I feel that my boys, who love legos and can build for hours, may benefit from the very soothing, will-building process of working with modeling wax and clay more often and it is going to be a big focus for us this year.  It is certainly a more sensory experience than touching hard, unyielding plastics!   New to the member catalog are two types of clay, natural modeling clays in 5 lb quantities of red or white, which can be glazed and kiln dried or used straight from the box, and colorful non-hardening clays. We are excited to use these in our family for a caterpillar project, where we will make realistic looking caterpillars, dangle them from the underside of tree branches near leaves, and then return in 24 hours to see how many “beak marks” birds left in trying to eat our caterpillars before realizing they are decoys, as suggested by our caterpillar field guide.

In our kindergarten, we have a drawing day, painting day, modeling day, and baking day.  So these things are really all you need; no curriculum necessary, although I think many newbies prefer to have a guide as they set off on unchartered territory.  Find something simple that doesn’t complicate your day, that helps you establish rhythm and enjoy the simple things in life with your kindergartener.

Lastly, the Auris glockenspiels are wonderful.  I would save this for Christmas or birthday.  The sound is truly enchanting and I’ve never met a child who wasn’t entranced with them!  You can use them to direct attention during transitions, and to begin to practice pentatonic melodies, as each note is engraved in the keys.  My friend Elisabeth says this is strongly encouraged in her teacher training, as a teacher can tap a melody while giving instructions.  It lends a more musical quality, a softeness, to our spoken leadership.

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When we come to first grade, we can add main lesson books, colored pencils, and chalks to our repertoire.  Flutes can be gifted in the first grade year, woven into the lesson and received at a birthday or special holiday.  You will need two of these, as the teacher needs to model the flute.  Some families have decided on pennywhistles in place of flutes.  Music Through The Grades is another must-have book once you reach the grades, as it provides developmentally appropriate music for grades 1-8 by a seasoned Waldorf teacher, with invaluable notes and 3 cds of songs to learn with.  I don’ think Stockmar stick crayons are vital to doing Waldorf homeschooling (whereas block crayons really are), but they are very nice and not too expensive to acquire somewhere along the line. You will need a sharpener for the wax crayons and triangular pencils from Lyra or Mercurius.

How much handwork supplies you need is really dependent on how much you love to do handwork and how much time you can carve out for it!  I aim for one knitting project per quarter, and one sewn felt item per quarter right now.  That seems doable for us.  In my personal crafting I love to needle-felt, too.

As crayons and pencils become worn or broken, you can set them aside in a special basket for when friends or toddlers wish to draw, and at Christmas, birthdays, or beginning of school present your child with a new set for their lessons and artistic pursuits.  Or, perhaps you take excellent care of yours and replace individual broken crayons/pencils- there is no “right” way.  I’ve sourced some great new wooden storage chests for supplies, and these will keep your organized, keep you portable to go outside, and protect things from younger siblings.

StorageCollageWell, there is my manifesto for building your supply cabinet.  If you need some cheap-o storage space, I bought wooden crates from Joanne Fabrics and Crafts when they were on sale.  I think I paid about $7 per crate? And I stacked them up 2- 5 crates tall and screwed them together, and into our wood floorboards.  Instant shelving!

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In my “office”, I have some rustic shelving thrown together from inexpensive wood from the local Amish sawmill. I keep the things I don’t want my three year old to get into, up high here.  Yes, my felt stash and beeswax sheets supplies look a bit excessive, but that is because I have the extras, leftovers, and damaged products from 3 years of running a co-op.  I like to make sure members get the best 😉

Speaking of members, I am finally accepting new members at Cedar Ring Circle… I stopped last October when I started wondering if I would want to continue coordinating Cedar Ring Circle after the baby.  Well, I do love my work with all of the wonderful members, and my husband has just left the comfortable salaried position he accepted last fall in favor of being an independent contractor and entrepreneur, so I am thinking I will be continuing for several more years, at least.  Save $10 on a Lifetime Membership with the code EARLYBIRD, now through Sunday, the 21st at midnight only (when our July order is due).  You’ll receive a welcome letter with information about deals, access to our private catalog with exclusive brands, the ability to request anything our suppliers offer to be added to our catalog, & details on our ordering schedule within 24 hours.  If a co-op does not appeal to you, I do recommend Pamela at Meadowsweet Naturals- we’ve gotten 25 new members in the past few days since I opened memberships again, so I am just too busy to accommodate any orders from non-members the way I was in the past few months, but I know she welcomes new customers and does a wonderful job taking care of Waldorf homeschoolers’ needs. 🙂


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Teaching the Alphabet Through Mandalas

This week marks Peter Ray’s third month!  Where does the time go? I am gearing up for our last quarter of Grade One, as we took several months off to enjoy and soak him up.  As summer solstice approaches, we have a baby rhythm unfolding, and lessons seem doable again (we did a lot of reading together in the meantime!).

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I sat down to do a bit of writing with my First Grader, and discovered the past 3 months of “baby break” left him very rusty.  His letters were looking sloppy, he was having trouble remembering to form them “from heaven to earth”, and he grumbled when I pulled out the handwriting practice book.

Here are the “a’s” in his handwriting practice book… he grumbled all the way… and I felt this method was just not working for us (he responds the same way about most of the form drawing figures I’ve introduced so far, too).  I really hate to feel like a schoolmaster, driving him forward on a task that is obviously painful. I could almost hear those “a’s” moaning, “ahhhhhhhhhhhhh”…

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So, I did the most natural thing a Waldorf-inspired mom could do. I asked myself, “What would Steiner do?”

Just kidding.  I did *not* really ask myself that 😉 Instead, I prayed and asked for wisdom about what my son needed to really love his letters. I was given an immediate answer in a flurry of inspiration- to work on letters with him through mandalas.  As I sat down to create my own as an example, I found it incredibly balancing and relaxing.  Mandalas are used by Buddhist monks as a method of meditating and internalizing images or symbols to the point that a very complex mandala can be summoned up in the mind in full detail.  I thought of what a perfect parallel this makes to form drawing, as we seek to help our child “live into” the letters and fully grasp them in all of their significance. Steiner said-

In regard to handwriting, it is so that people do not have a writing, rather the writing has the person… That means, we have in our wrist, in our hand, a certain writing trait. We write mechanically out of our hand. This fetters the human being. The human being becomes unfettered when he writes in the way that he paints or draws, when each letter next to the other becomes something that he draws.

He says again in another lecture-

Take for example, writing.  The boy writes something like this, does he not? Now it will be for you to set to work and take the utmost care and pains that he shall gradually change his handwriting and develop it into a finely formed script.  And you will find that while he is doing this, there will be clear signs also of a transformation taking place in his whole inner constitution.

So here is my first attempt at a mandala, which I used to introduce him to the concept, as a guide…

MandalaA1And a second one, which I drew together with him as he did his own… didn’t get a chance to color this one in yet… and it has several mistakes, but ah well, good attempt for a mother holding a wiggly baby, right?

MandalaA2And his complete mandala for the letter A… he enjoyed creating it very much!

MandalaA3It was surprisingly easy to do these, and if you watch this short tutorial on growing a mandala, I think you’ll be pleasantly delighted at what a simple, enjoyable task it is! The key is to turn the paper as you go.  We did use a compass to create a circle at the beginning; I felt that since my son and I are sanguine it would suit our temperaments to work within a defined area as the basis of our effort, rather than “growing out” by working from the inside out as an introvert might wish to do, since we tend to be expansive enough in who we are as individuals already.  We used Mercurius color giant pencils, but I think it would be really fun to paint them with watercolors, too.  I see a summer filled with letter mandalas in our future!

As my inner work has gotten on track, I truly feel “inspired”- or being “In Spirit”-  in building our lessons and our lives together.  I have been realizing just how boxed in I feel when I try to do lessons the “right” way.  Instead, I feel a calling to listen to the voice within and bring something very personal to our lessons, to add my own flavor.  Perhaps, that was Steiner’s ideal all along?


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Waldorf Book Review: “Music Through the Grades- In the Light of the Developing Child”

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I am super excited about this new book.  Diane Ingraham Barnes has really done us a huge service, and for every Waldorf-inspired homeschooling parent out there with children in the grades, I feel this is a must-have.  She has collected over 200 songs, divided each song by grade and the themes of that grade, and based all of this on over 20 years of insight into child development.  There are certainly plenty of song books available for kindergarten-age children already on the market for the Waldorf niche, but this book takes you through first to eighth grade and features 3 CD’s for the first three grades, enabling those still learning to read music to hear each of the songs before attempting to play. She includes wise notes and suggested activities to accompany the songs, with pedagogical insights on how to best meet the children where they are at during each grade, too.

Grade One comes with 17 songs to mark the seasons and passage of time and speak to the themes of the year; 21 more such songs which are also in the mood of the fifth; and 7 songs specifically geared for learning to play the pentatonic flute.  Grade 2 selections offer 31 theme/season related songs with notes on both lyre and kinderharp.  Grade Three offers 30; it also offers four songs particularly suited to teaching/playing C-flute.  All 112 of the Grades 1-3 songs are sung on CD by Diane so you can better learn to play them if, like me, reading music is not a proficiency for you. In Grade Four, the round is introduced with plenty of songs particularly suited to it; in Grade Five, iron rod activities are discussed; in Grade 6, Diane explains how to meet the child studying the Renaissance period with chants, canons, and Renaissance dances.  Seventh grade is particularly suited to the fugue and madrigals, and eighth to the opera and beginnings of choral singing as puberty and changing voices allow for it.

I plan to spend the summer becoming familiar with playing the second grade songs, especially ones related to saints and fables, as I immerse myself in D’aulaire’s Saints and Fables books (and would you believe, my dear librarian ordered five books of saints geared towards children just for me after I came in asking about them recently and there were none to be found? So sweet of her!). I do have three copies of Music Through the Grades available now (it was brand new in late April, and already my supplier sold out of their first shipment, so I had to go directly to the publisher to meet all the orders for it from our May book sale).  Please take advantage of 20% savings with the code JUNE20 and low $1.99 shipping rate. 😉 This code will also work on other products storewide, although after the last very successful sale in May the shop is a bit wiped out. I will be restocking soon! And our next co-op order is coming up very shortly in early July… wait til you see all the new things that are going to be available!

Stay tuned for another book review soon- I’ve just ordered Christine Shafer’s latest book, Magic Wool Fruit Children for the shop and have a few copies of that available, too- and one for me, you know, ahem- for reviewing purposes 😉 I can’t wait to dive into this bit of needle-felting, nature table delight!

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River Rock Math Adventure

Brrr, it’s been cold in the northeast.  It seems we get a fresh batch of beautiful pure, white snow at least every other day, and with sniffly noses my children have been inside more than we’d like to be.  I’m trying to include lots of nature in our lessons, so at least in our imaginations we are lost in the great outdoors!

This week the Cloud Boy and his family had a counting adventure.  One way to get down from their mountain to the village is to cross the stream.  It is a wide stream, and during summer when the water ran low they placed 30 rocks across the stream to serve as stepping stones, spaced very close to each other so even the baby can walk across them.  The toddler likes to jump to every other stone, the Cloud Boy hops three stones at a time, the Cloud Boy’s father, his leg injury fully healed and now sprightly as the sheep and mountain goats once again, hops four stones at a time; and their friend, the Giant, hops five whole stones at a time! As everyone jumps we practice counting by ones, twos, threes, fours, and fives. Of course we like to do a bit of jumping ourselves, imagining the stream winding beneath us.

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“The baby walks from rock to rock. 1, 2, 3…”

We found the smooth, black river rocks and a silver paint marker at the craft store, and already had the silk “river”.  My toddler has been busily playing all morning with the extra rocks- I think we’ll all be having rock soup for lunch!  Aren’t my peg people rather boring?  I’ll admit I haven’t gotten creative with them at all.  But I’m super excited about the new book by Maragaret Bloom, Making Peg Dolls– 192 pages of Waldorf crafting fun!  Hopefully we’ll be livening up our peg dolls soon.  I already have five of these lovely books en route for the Cedar Ring Circle shop, and I’ve included the book in our next special order (last one before my maternity leave!) which I should be ready to start taking orders on by tomorrow (later than I planned, but better late than never- it’s been a crazy month with wheels falling off of vehicles, major appliances breaking, home renovations, animal mishaps, and stolen debit cards!).  Stay tuned for the discount code and order details if you’re a Cedar Ring Circle member or on our email list. 😉

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(Shared on Annette’s Waldorf Wednesday linkup. The best thing to happen to Wednesdays since millet!)


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Enjoying “Ollie’s Ski Trip” and Ollie Doll Tutorial

We’ve been using Elsa Beskow’s wonderful books to supplement our kindergarten time, and this week we are reading Ollie’s Ski Trip.  With a fresh snow blanketing the world in white this morning, I was inspired to make a little wool roving Ollie to kick off our adventures in his story.

First, I took a piece of roving and formed a ball, leaving a tail- this will be the head and upper body.  Next, a thin piece of roving tied under the “head” serves as a neck.  After tying it and wrapping the loose ends around, I poked them a bit with the needle to keep them in place. Just click on the pictures to enlarge them a bit if they are showing up too small in your browser.  Also, you can see some of these steps in the first few video tutorials I posted last time for Magic Wool Fairies.

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Next, I took half a pipe cleaner minus 1 inch (save the other piece of half plus 1 inch for the legs!) and wrapped it once under the neck for arms.  I curled the ends of the arms in a bit to keep the hands from being poky (the end of the pipe cleaner is sharp) and to make them thicker to look more like hands.  Then I wrapped thin strips of roving around the arms, shoulders, and upper body to fill it in and give it the contours of a human body. Next, I separated the “tail” hanging from the upper body into two pieces- back and front- and then divided each of these into two, with the inner back and inner front serving as two “strings” to tie around the piece of pipe cleaner left over after making the arms. The leg pipe cleaner is folded in half of course…

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Next I took the hanging pieces of roving and wrapped them around the legs.  I folded the pipe cleaner “feet” just as I did the hands.  I wrapped the feet in white and black roving to look like Ollie’s boots and socks, and tied bits of red embroidery thread to mimic the ties on his legs.  Then I added some blue roving pants, wrapping and poking until they fit just right.

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I set Ollie on a piece of paper and traced a coat for him.  I made sure to cut the wool felt a bit larger than the actual tracing to leave room for his three-dimensionality.  I wrapped his hands in white mittens with a red border, and sewed his little coat right on.

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Next I added some hair, and “measured” him for his hat with a piece of paper.  I cut the paper in two and added some shaping to it, as a pattern for the felt hat he would wear.  Next time I won’t make the pieces quite so triangular in top, but it still turned out pretty well…

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I sewed the hat wrong side out, turned it right side out, and needle-felted it to his head by adding a circle of wrapped roving around the border (just like Ollie’s hat has a thick rim) and poking it through the felt and securely to his head.  I topped it with a tiny ball of roving.  Be careful!  Hard not to poke yourself with such a tiny ball.  Lastly, I gave him a face.  It was my first attempt at a face, using black and red roving in tiny quantities for eyes and mouth and a tuft of skin tone as a nose for the face.  My kids like the face, but I think I prefer him without one… what do you think?OllieTut6

The final touch was to hot glue his feet to popsicle stick “skis” and toothpick ski poles.

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For Christmas, the children got a collection of Arctic animals from Ostheimer, and we used them to reenact some of the Ollie scenes.  King Winter, gifted last year by my friend Mama West Wind, has a castle guarded by polar bears and a throne guarded by walruses.

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They enjoyed playing for a while…

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Until we headed outside to build a real snow castle for Ollie.

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Then we went inside and I had a cup of hot cocoa with my favorite little people. 😉 Our “natural” recipe is 1/4 cup of organic cocoa, a pinch of salt, and 1 cup of water heated til it begins to boil.  Then we pour in 3 cups of organic raw milk, 3 TBSP honey, and bring just to the point before boiling.  We remove it from the heat and mix in 1/2 tsp vanilla.  MMMmm!

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